Blue River, Oregon
July 15, 2012
A community nestled beside a river of the same name. It was settled in the 1800’s by the Sparks family. In 1863, gold was discovered in the area and the Blue River Mining District was established. At one time more than 250 men were working the area. In 1900 Samuel Sparks and his sons laid out the town of Blue River as part of 320 acres they had acquired. By 1912 gold mining activity had virtually stopped but records show the Lucky Boy Mine had extracted more than $1 million from the area. The old hotel, located on Blue River Drive is on the Historic National Register. Now Blue River is home to McKenzie School District, Blue River Park, a library, liquor shop, a resort, an auto repair shop, medical clinic, boat landing, fire station, church, post office, and the Blue River Reservoir. There is a great viewpoint and hiking area from the top of the dam on Blue River Road.
Blue River Road #15:Gateway to the beginning of a recreational wonderland. There is a great campground at Mona, north end of Blue River Reservoir. The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, one of 15 major ecosystem research sites in the United States, is nearby. Road #15 also leads to Wolf Rock, reputed to be the largest monolith in Oregon and the third largest in the world. It rises from an elevation of less than 3,600 feet at the base to over 4,500 feet. Another feature of this area is the 1.5 mile Lookout Creek Old-growth Trail, which provides hikers with a classic old-growth experience.
Aufderheide Drive: One of the McKenzie’s two National Scenic Byways. This road leads the traveler through some of the most spectacular countryside imaginable. (Be sure and pick up the free-for-loan audio cassette from the McKenzie River Ranger District for a mile-by-mile description of this unique roadway). The .5 mile Delta Old-Growth Nature Trail features interpretive displays and some 500 year old giants nearly 250 feet tall. The Forest Service gives free Nature Talks! here from July through August.
Be sure to stop at the viewpoint of 452 foot Cougar Dam, which was built in 1964 and is a rock filled structure over 1,500 feet long. Further along is Terwilliger Hot Springs, a very popular spot in the summer months. Be aware that some bathers in this area will be naked while enjoying one of the five pools.
There are parking, camping, and springs user fees for this area. After crossing the West End Bridge you travel past the French Pete Wilderness Addition. Permits are required to visit the wilderness and can be obtained at the ranger stations. In this area are many beautiful campgrounds, hiking trails and scenic vistas as the road winds its way up to Box Canyon Guard Station. Continuing on the road eventually leads to the cities of West Fir and Oakridge.